Small businesses pitch new safety measures for a post-quarantine world

Posted at 6:52 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 14:02:41-04

At a store like Schwartz Jewelers, trying on and touching the merchandise are givens. As eponymous owner Marty Schwartz prepares to potentially reopen despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, he said he’s re-evaluating the way he’ll do business in a changed world.

“The last thing I want is a second wave of this,” he said Wednesday of the pandemic, which prompted shutdowns across nearly every industry in the United States. “Ultimately, what we want is everyone to be safe.”

That could mean gloves and masks for everyone in the store, including customers. It could mean a lot of things he never imagined he would have to do.

Small business owners like Schwartz spoke Wednesday to Ohio’s Ecnomic Recovery Task Force, which intends to give Gov. Mike DeWine a plan with concrete recommendations for the state’s future. Whatever starts on May 1 won’t be the normality that existed on Jan. 1, but it will be something closer than the month-long quarantine that has so far spanned mid-March to mid-April.

Business owners who want to be part of it, however, need to prove they take safety seriously.

At the round table, participants pitched solutions such as gloves and masks, taking the temperature of everyone who enters their building, marking floors to keep customers six feet apart and even implementing a time-out buzzer reminding workers to wash their hands.

Schwartz said he’s not sure whether his business will be among those that reopen quickly. He’s hopeful, he added.

But he also wants the task force to include more loan opportunities for owners, in case jewelry shops are just too hands-on for a world newly preoccupied what exactly who touched the merchandise last.